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The Long Firm by Jake Arnott





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Too Long

If novels about 1960s English gangsters, especially gay ones, is your cup of tea, then Jake Arnott’s first novel, The Long Firm, is just right for you. A period piece full of staccato language and scenes and moods of the 1960s including hippies drug, sex and violence, The Long Firm presents the interesting life of Harry Starks. Starks leads a variety of criminal activities, including a scam called “the long firm.” His changing relationships with the men in his life, including houseboys, add additional dark color to the violence of Harry’s gangster life. Narrators change with different chapters, profiling the minds and attitudes of supporting characters. Here’s an excerpt from the section narrated by Jack the Hat:

“Too many pills. Dope myself with booze but feel like I’m sleeping with my eyes open. Like the speed’s given me X-ray vision. See through my own eyelids. Nightmares coming anyway. Madge yakking at me just before I pushed her. Weasel Face choking blood all over the caravan floor. Little Jack, age six, holding up jam jar full of tadpoles turning into bits of body. Mooney strangling a blond-haired boy.
Sleep through the day. Wake up, it’s the night again. Time all to cock. Like it’s running backwards or something. Lose track. Sometimes not sure whether it’s dusk or dawn. Dull greyness in the window. Is it getting lighter or darker?”

For most readers, there’s no compelling reason to pick up this novel.

Steve Hopkins, January 23, 2002


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